Skip to content

Churchill's fruit cake

This cake was one of Winston Churchill's favourites. It was baked by his longstanding cook, Georgina Landemare, who catered for him during the Second World War at Downing Street and then at his family home, Chartwell in Kent. This version of the fruit cake is inspired by Mrs Landemare's original recipe, which Churchill would have enjoyed.

  • 20 minutes prep. time
  • 1½-2 hours cooking time
  • Serves 12
  • Cakes, bakes & desserts, Vegetarian
A dark fruit cake is on a white cake stand, with a slice cut and placed on a plate in front, placed on a lacy tablecloth. There is colourful bunting in the backgroundfruit cake.jpg
Try a slice of Winston Churchill's favourite | © National Trust/Rebecca Janaway

Ingredients

  • 280g dried mixed fruit
  • 2 cups strong black tea
  • 225g butter
  • 170g dark brown sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 285g self-raising flour
  • 110g glacé cherries, halved
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tbsp black treacle (optional)

Method

Suitable substitutes

If you don’t have any glacé cherries in your cupboard, use dried apricots or mixed nuts instead. Black treacle is used to add a rich darkness and flavour to the cake, but it is not essential. Without it, the cake will simply have a lighter finish – but still a delicious taste.

Step 1

Soak the dried fruit in the tea, preferably overnight, to allow most of the tea to be absorbed.

Step 2

Preheat the oven to 150°C (fan 140°C/gas mark 2) and grease and line a 23cm springform cake tin.

Step 3

Cream together the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl until pale, scraping the sides of the bowl to incorporate all the mixture, and continue to cream together.

Step 4

Gradually beat the eggs into the mixture, adding a little flour to stop the mixture from splitting or curdling.

Step 5

Fold in the flour and add the mixed spice to the mixture.

Step 6

Add in the mixed fruit and glacé cherries and continue to fold together. If there is a little leftover tea from the mixed fruit, add it to the cake mixture along with the fruit. However, if there's a lot of tea left, drain the fruit before adding it. Continue to fold and stir, while adding the treacle.

Step 7

Once completely mixed together, scrape the mixture into the cake tin and leave to bake for 2 hours. To check that the cake is cooked, insert a skewer into the centre. If it comes out clean the cake is cooked through.

Step 8

Remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack. Finish with a light dusting of caster sugar.

Side view of the lemon and blueberry mousse pots

Recipes

From tried and tested classic bakes to healthy dishes the whole family can enjoy, find inspiration for your next meal.

You might also be interested in

A close up view of a scone served on a plate with a generous helping of jam and cream
Recipe
Recipe

Fruit scones 

Discover how to make the ultimate fruit scone.

Tea soaked fruit cake
Recipe
Recipe

Tea soaked fruit cake 

Looking for a light afternoon treat? Try this tea soaked fruit cake, which is sure to be a family tea-time favourite.

Baking with flour and butter
Recipe
Recipe

Simple sponge cake 

Try development chef Clive Goudercourt's recipe for making the perfect sponge cake.

Preparing fresh vegetables for the restaurant at Knightshayes Court, Tiverton, Devon

Food 

We believe in sourcing sustainable food wherever possible and use local and seasonal produce in our cafés. Discover why this is important and have a go at some of our recipes at home.

Looking down on shortbread biscuits topped with rhubarb compote and mixed yogurt and cream, drizzled with red wine syrup. A cupful of cream and yogurt is to the right, and shortbread biscuits cool on a rack to the back.

Cakes, bakes and desserts 

We love food and we've got some great recipes to prove it. Here are some of our favourite cakes, bakes and dessert recipes from our chefs and local experts.

A view of the path through the Golden Rose Avenue with flowers in bloom on either side at Chartwell, Kent
Article
Article

Chartwell: The National Trust story 

The Trust’s story at Chartwell began whilst Winston Churchill and his family were still in residence. Discover how we helped to preserve a significant piece of British history.